(Image source from: chinadailyhk.com)
While the entire world is fighting a raging pandemic, the Indian sex workers have been in a constant array of dismay. They are constantly fighting for survival and finding ways to get their life back to normal.
One of the primary reasons why the Indian sex workers have been constantly struggling is because of the lack of acceptance from the society. Sex workers in India are not allowed to leave their homes.
During this time of the pandemic, they are not even allowed to go outside to buy their groceries. Having to live off what is available is not enough during this time of a pandemic.
The lockdown has left them in dire need of support, for themselves and their families. The kind of struggles they are facing needs attention now.
Insight into their life
While the society has a cruel way of looking at the sex workers, it is important to understand that majority of the women in this field are either forced by someone or forced by poverty.
There are several sex workers in India who work to support their children. Majority of them are single mothers working tirelessly to feed their children and give them a life that they deserve.
Majority of the sex workers have reported that they don’t refrain from giving details about their work to their families and tell them that they work in a call centre.
Just in Delhi’s G-broad area, around 5000 girls are working as prostitutes on a daily basis. They have even said that majority of their clientele includes truck drivers and men who stay away from home.
With the lockdown, the business of the sex workers has stopped completely to further prevent the spread of the virus in the country. While the rules have been imposed for the betterment of people, it brings along consequences for these sex workers.
With no money and no freedom of work, they are experiencing a lot of hardships. Several mothers whose income their children depend on for food and necessities are not able to provide for them.
Lack of income
Majority of the sex workers in India are into this profession for earning money. With the lockdown in place, they have been experiencing a very hard time with lack of clients and no work anymore. This means that they are going to be out of work till everyone is in quarantine.
The entirety of the society has a habit of mistreating the sex workers, leaving them to fend for themselves. Many sex workers have even been in dilemma on what to tell their family about their work, wondering how they would react in case the truth comes out.
Many of them who live in brothel accommodations or even hostels have been approached by the landlords for clearing their rent. With little to no income, these women have been facing a lot of hurdle in paying the rent.
Several of the individuals have even reported that they wouldn’t be able to get back to work even when the lockdown is lifted as people would not be comfortable stepping out of their homes, let alone avail their services.
Durbar, director of a non-governmental organisation in India also said that they need to ensure that the virus isn’t spreading further post lockdown days. He believes that the virus is likely going to spread faster in brothels.
This, in short, means that they will be out of income for quite some time. And, with the higher risks of the virus spreading in the brothels, it is likely that the government will impose stricter rules there.
Impacts on food and sanitation
It goes without saying that majority of the sex workers work for money. With the lockdown in place, their only source of income has been stopped. This has led to a shortage of food and sanitation items an even medication for the sex workers.
With the lack of freedom of movement for them, they have been confined in their homes, unable to get the necessities that they need.
The Indian government is planning to arrange relief packages for those who are in dire need. However, the sex workers are still in a dilemma, thinking whether they are included in it or not.
Some of the local charities are working to provide the sex workers with the necessary amount of food and essentials that they are in need of. But, even then it is not enough and there is a limit to how much they can provide.
In terms of sanitation, the sex workers in India have been facing a very hard time coping with situations and government guidelines because of the small accommodations they live in.
The lack of sanitation and lack of proper washrooms for cleaning themselves is creating an even higher risk for their health.
Impacted mental health
It is not just the physical degradation that a sex worker in India experiences. The impacts run deeper than that and their mental health is also at stake.
With the lack of money and the constant confinement that they are in, the same is affecting the mental health of the sex workers in India.
The fact that several of them have had to lie about their profession is also affecting their mental health. The constant scare of their families finding out is taking a gradual impact on their emotions.
Women are likely to experience depression and some other forms of mental health disorders.
With the constant turmoil in their lives and living with other women in the same profession in a small house can leave to fights and disagreements. This also hampers one’s mental health for the worse.
The sudden loss of power, dominance and freedom is a hit to their mental health. The constant lack of attention and the constant degradation by the society also does impact their mental health.
With the lockdown, it is likely that the sex workers in India will have to witness far worse days in the near future.
By Somapika Dutta